So Lucky There's A Family Guy

Thursday 28th 2012f June 2012


Alex Borstein's parents are both mental health professionals, so it is eyebrow-raising that she first found fame in the American comedy sketch show MADtv.

This theme has continued throughout the subsequent career of this multi-talented singer/writer/actress. A big breakthrough was when Borstein became the world-recognised voice of Family Guy's long-suffering wife Lois Griffin, and from earlier this year she has been one of the driving forces behind Shameless, a TV series following the trials and tribulations of a dysfunctional family. Her familiarity with all things defective, chaotic and downright dotty may serve her well in the UK, a subject she has recently been talking about with her ambitions for a one-woman show.

Q: Please reveal something about an upcoming episode of Family Guy?
There is a really fun boxing episode in the works which I loved because I'm a huge boxing fan, and there's a great musical number in it as well. Ryan Reynolds was really funny guest-starring in the show. He becomes obsessed with Peter - he wants to date him.

Q: Do you ever tire of Lois' voice and have you had to adapt it over the years?
No, I never tire of it. It's a pretty easy register, and it's nasal, so if I have a cold I can still launch into it. It changed on its own over time - if you listen to any cartoon from seasons one to 10, the voices are so different. It happens naturally; things get higher pitched.

Q: Can you get away with more in an animated sitcom than in live action?
Absolutely, and Seth MacFarlane, the show's creator, knows that - that's part of his genius. When you have a baby talking about killing its mother, it's hilarious. If it was a teenager, it's not. He knows exactly what he can get away with and everything coming out of an animated character is more readily acceptable than a live action character.

Q: Why has the show done so well?
I think the timing was perfect. The US was so ready to laugh, and so in need of laughing at itself. I think Seth just hit this perfect timing of creating something animated so that it could feel very other-worldly, and yet have characters so real that people can relate. The speed with which the show delivers jokes is constant. No one is safe. We slam every political party, every gender, every sexual orientation and religion and I think people were just ready.

Q: Will we see a Family Guy movie?
It's something that Seth wants to do. It's just a question of time. It's not just about writing it and making it, because Seth is so picky about quality. He doesn't want to water down his product. We make 22 episodes a season and each show takes nine months to make. It's a constant barrage of work and to throw the addition of a movie on there, we're not sure how we could find the time to keep the quality as high as we'd like.

Q: Aside from Family Guy, what's been your favourite role over the years?
One of the shows I work on as a writer-producer is Shameless, which is a British import. It's doing really well. The character of Frank Gallagher is very similar to Peter Griffin of Family Guy, in the sense that he is irresponsible, shirks his parental responsibilities and botches things up as a husband. But, in the end, they both have these bizarre loyalties to their families. It's interesting to see what is possible with live action - you can't get away with as much.

Q: Will you ever do stand-up in the UK?
I don't like to do little clubs and tour. If I came to the UK, I would probably put up a one-woman show in a small theatre instead of just a night here or there - that doesn't interest me. It's just too hard for an old lady!